McLaren are taking an interest in the stewards’ response to Mercedes’ request for a review of an incident from last weekend’s race in light of a penalty Lando Norris received earlier in the seasonSergio Perez “was forced off the track” by the McLaren driver. Perez was trying to overtake Norris around the outside of a corner at the time.
Last week Max Verstappen was accused of forcing Lewis Hamilton off the track to prevent his championship rival from overtaking him on the outside. The Mercedes driver was further ahead of his rival going into the corner than Perez had been compared to Norris in Austria, prompting questions over why one incident resulted in a penalty while the other wasn’t investigated.
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl remains convinced Norris had the right to the line in his incident with Perez and should not have been penalised at all.
“Looking at Lando’s case, definitely we have some questions,” said Seidl. “Lando got a penalty in Austria for something which, from our point of view, was debateable. I think you can definitely argue it was Lando’s corner, different to what was seen in Brazil.”
If the stewards grant Mercedes’ request for a review, Seidl expects it will establish a new precedent for how similar incidents are judged in future.
“We’re very interested in not necessarily the ruling from today – the outcome of today’s investigation is again a different story, different process – but more like understanding what Michael [Masi, FIA F1 race director] will brief to the drivers tonight in the drivers briefing on how they see things moving forward.
“Because I think whatever the outcome is, it will definitely change the approach of the drivers to certain manoeuvres on track. That’s why it’s interesting to clarify.”
Seidl believes the differences between the run-off areas at the corners should not have a bearing on a penalty decision. Verstappen and Hamilton went onto an asphalt run-off and quickly rejoined while Perez ran into a gravel trap, losing more time.
“The consequences should not necessarily be part of the decision making process,” said Seidl. “Again, for me, the Lando case is, to be honest, a completely different case. It wasn’t his fault so it’s even not comparable to what happened last weekend. He was on the racing line, he was in front with his car. And then, for me, it’s just normal in racing that the guy on the outside line at some point has to lift because you have no space.
“It’s different to getting pushed off. That’s why we were wondering at the time why we got the penalty, that’s why we’re wondering that things like we have seen last weekend are analysed. So that’s why I think it’s important to put that straight.”
If stewards were to take into consideration the consequences of incidents, it could lead drivers to exaggerate the disadvantage they experience in incidents as a result of others’ moves, said Seidl.
“If you go into this consequences thing, it’s an impossible task because then you might end up forcing people into showing it as a consequence and artificial things, going in the gravel when you don’t have to go in the gravel and whatever, just to make sure the penalty gets applied, et cetrera. For me you have to look at the incident that happens on-track.”
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